We got to meet Alexander Venell, the pastor of a brand new MEBSH learning center in Lakawann, Haiti. Cross has been helping dozens of church-operated literacy centers provide food, education, and the gospel to restaveks (a Haitian word for children forced by poverty to work as domestic servants).
The Lakawann school has only been open since September, and Pastor Venell is gradually getting to know his students and where they are in their relationship with God. “Before I do weekly devotions, the first thing I ask the students is, ‘What do you know about God?’ Then they say, ‘God is our creator, he is our father.’ I learn from the kids that God is everybody’s father – we are each brother and sister. Many of the students here, they weren’t raised in the church, therefore they aren’t Christians. This is really their first experience, their introduction to the church and to religion.”
For Pastor Venell, the spiritual aspect of the program is essential. “The reality is that everybody has the spirit, they have the body, and they have the head. You need to nurture all three of them.”
Pastor Venell says Christianity can be a hard sell for some of the children’s host families. “Though there is resistance from some of the guardians of some of these kids with the Bible lessons and the morning devotions, they do agree with the education. Part of the change is community acceptance of this program, because it’s so new. Though they’re not Christian, they are still being provided free education and they are accepting that in their lives because of this program.”
So, why a new center in Lakawann? “This is a poor area. There is a great need. There are not many schools here…I just want to say thank you very much (to Cross), because this is a program that will help them to love God and provide the needed education in the community. I hope and pray that these lessons learned will stay in the heads and hearts of the kids.”
Thanks, Pastor Venell, for your faithful service to the restavek children in Lakawann, Haiti!